"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Saturday, November 18, 2017

15 Prisoners have Convictions Thrown Out in Chicago Over Crooked Cops

Corruption is Everywhere - Chicago Police
Allegations of corruption in the Chicago police force
probably go back about a hundred years

 A Chicago police officer attends a news conference. © Jim Young / Reuters

Fifteen men who were framed by a corrupt team of cops in Chicago have had their convictions thrown out en masse, leading to calls for hundreds of other cases linked to the team led by disgraced former officer Ronald Watts to be investigated.

The 15 had their convictions quashed Thursday, and hours later, seven cops allegedly part of Watts’ team that “terrorized the Ida B. Wells housing projects in Chicago for over a decade” were removed from street duties while their conduct is under investigation, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Following the mass exonerations, believed to be the first of its kind in the history of the Windy City, Joshua Tepfer, lead attorney for the 15 vowed to review as many as 500 other convictions linked to the crooked squad.

“It needs to be investigated and vetted about how many of those are appropriate to overturn,” Tepler said. “We are very much in the process of doing that.”

In addition, five other Watts-related convictions had already been thrown out earlier, bringing the total number, so far, to 20.

Further to these, two other men walked free both having served lengthy sentences and both for double murders they had not committed. These were not linked to Watts and his crew but because of alleged misconduct by the force.

Sixty-six-year-old Arthur Brown was released on Tuesday, having served 29 years, while on Wednesday, Jose Maysonet, 49, was released after serving 27 years.

Watts and his team acted with impunity for years despite being repeatedly accused of forcing residents and drug dealers to pay a protection tax. If anyone refused, Watt simply framed them.

As Leonard Gipson, one of the men stitched up by Watts recounts to the Tribune, he filed a complaint with Chicago Police in 2003, alleging that Watts had framed him on a drugs charge for failing to pay protection money. His complaint went unheeded.

When Gipson came across Watts again, four months later with his drug charge pending, the then sergeant said: “Let me see if you can bond off on this,” before slapping the cuffs on and planting 28 grams of heroin on him.

On the advice of his attorney, who said it was his word against the cops, Gipson pleaded guilty to the charge. On Thursday he had three convictions thrown out. “Watts always told me, ‘If you’re not going to pay me, I’m going to get you,’” Gipson said. “And every time I ran into him, he’d put drugs on me. Every time.”

In 2007, Chicago officers Shannon Spalding and Daniel Echeverria were allegedly told by their superiors to ignore evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Sergeant Ronald Watts, but the two reported it to the FBI all the same.

What the officers thought would end in a simple meeting turned into “Operation Brass Tacks.” Their involvement in the FBI’s investigation into Watts eventually became a full-time job, so they were forced to inform CPD internal affairs.

The whistleblowers ended up spending two years on the case, resulting in a 22-month prison term being handed down to Watts in October 2013.

What about his superiors? When do they pay the piper? There's no way he could operate for that long without his superiors knowing.

US Ready to Turn Syria into Another Libya

US ready to ‘fight for justice’ in Syria without UN approval – Haley

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. © Brendan McDermid / Reuters

The US does not consider itself constrained by the United Nations Security Council and might seek “justice” in Syria on its own terms, the US representative to the UN, Nikki Haley, has said. The US took similar action in Libya in 2011.

“With the unity of this council, or alone, unrestrained by Russia’s obstructionism, we will continue to fight for justice and accountability in Syria,” Haley said, blasting Russia’s vetoing of the draft resolution on the extension of the Syrian chemical weapons probe on Friday.

The draft, proposed by Japan, envisioned the “technical extension” of the probe for another 30 days. Explaining Russia’s decision to block the resolution, Russian UN envoy Vasily Nebenzya said that there is no sense in prolonging the mission if some glaring flaws in its work are not amended.

"There can be no other way after the JIM’s [the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism] leadership disgraced itself with its fictitious investigation into the sarin use incident in Khan Shaykhun and signed off on baseless accusations against Syria,” he said.

Haley went on to accuse Russia of showing no flexibility in negotiating the conditions of the probe, claiming that Moscow had only “dictated and demanded” while the US had “incorporated elements of the Russian draft” into its own in the hopes of reaching a consensus.

Russia vetoed the US draft on Thursday, with Nebenzya calling it “unbalanced” and solely designed to discredit Russia and its role in the Syrian settlement. Haley subsequently accused the Russian mission of ignoring the US delegation's attempts to contact it before the vote.

Haley’s remarks on the impossibility of reaching the Russian mission provoked an angry reaction from Moscow, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov calling it “fake diplomacy.” Lavrov said that "it seems we are witnessing a new phenomenon in international relations, as now, apart from fake news, there is also fake diplomacy."

The rival draft was co-sponsored by Russia and China, and “aimed at the extension and qualitative improvement” of the fact-finding mission, according to Nebenzya. However, it also failed, gaining the support of only four Security Council members.

While both Russia and the US used their veto powers on the respective resolutions, Haley accused Moscow of obstructing the work of the UNSC and its efforts to find “the truth.

The 'truth' as decided beforehand. See: Khan Sheikhun Sarin Gas Attack was a False Flag Operation

Russia has repeatedly criticized the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM)’s report on the chemical incident in Khan Shaykhun as being filled with “omissions, inconsistences and contradictions.” It also says it does not follow standard procedures for an impartial inquiry as it relies on questionable testimonies provided by rebels and NGOs, some of which are suspected of links to terrorists. In particular, it pointed to experts’ refusal to visit the site of the attack despite security guarantees.

Another Libya?

In 2011, the US intervened in the region to curb the violence in the ongoing civil war in Libya. Under the pretext of a UN mandate to establish a no-fly zone in the country and save civilian lives, the US-led NATO coalition waged a full-fledged campaign that eventually resulted in the slaughter of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and multiple civilian deaths, the number of which varies from 72, according to Human Rights Watch, to more than 1,000 in unconfirmed reports. The country is still in tatters and the war involving tribes and militants is ongoing. 

It's time to end the war in Syria, not prolong it as long as possible. Let the country begin to rebuild so Syrians can stay in Syria and perhaps even some migrants in Europe can return home. 

As evil and horrible as Bashar al-Assad is, he is not worth destroying what little remains of Syria and destroying Europe to take him out. That's insanity. 

If the USA's determination to keep the war going in Syria is to humor their Saudi friends, they are not worth it. If it is just to keep weapons rolling off the assembly-lines, that is prostitution of the worst kind.

End the war in Syria! It is within reach. Stop trying to one-up Russia at the expense of Syria and Europe.

Despite the UN not giving the greenlight for a full-fledged campaign in Syria, US Defense Secretary James Mattis claimed that the organization sanctioned action there, justifying it with the struggle against Islamic State terrorists. Damascus has repeatedly blasted the US for operating on Syrian territory without its consent and in violation of international law, and views the US presence as an invasion.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Is George Soros Pulling the Strings of European Parliament?

Soros and his ‘226 EU friends’ thrust into spotlight by Farage
– so who are they?

Picking up the anti-Soros torch from Hungarian leader Viktor Orban, UK politician Nigel Farage is seeking to investigate fellow EU MEPs who support the controversial vision of the wealthy financier. But are Orban and Farage’s fears valid?

UK politician Nigel Farage, the prominent face of Brexit, is now concerned about Europe’s destiny. Addressing the EU Parliament this week, Farage provided some thoughtful ideas as to the source of the claims that Russia had somehow manipulated the Brexit vote, as well as the Trump election.

“Just last week, the electoral commission, in the UK, launched an investigation to find out whether the ‘Leave’ campaign took offshore money or Russian money,” Farage said.

"This came about as a result of questions asked in the House of Commons by one Ben Bradshaw, somebody linked to an organization called Open Society.”

But Farage, who seems to take great delight in agitating his fellow MPs, was just warming up. He went on to provide yet another example of an EU parliamentarian working on behalf of George Soros, this time against Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, who has accused the financier of seeking to create “a Europe of mixed population.”

“We even had last week Mr. [Guy] Verhofstadt lobbying on behalf of Mr. Soros at the Conference of Presidents in a battle that is going on with Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary,” Farage said, pointing directly at Verhofstadt as he spoke.

“I wonder,” Farage continued, “when we are talking about ‘political collusion,’ I wonder if we are looking in the wrong place.”

Farage described Soros’s influence in Strasbourg and Brussels as “truly extraordinary.” And that influence looks set to increase dramatically now that Soros has donated the bulk of his wealth - $18 billion - into his Open Society pet project, which campaigns for open borders and supranational structures such as the European Union.

$18 bn can buy a whole lot of MEPs.

Farage concluded his short, fiery monologue with a weighty statement: “I fear we could be looking at the biggest level of international, political collusion in history.”

On the surface, there seems to be some legitimacy to Farage’s claim. According to public sources, Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI), the EU policy arm of Open Society Foundations, met with members of the European Commission on 44 separate occasions in 2016. And now that the organization has just been energized with $18 billion, it would seem apparent that that influence is set to increase.

Moreover, the Soros organizations published a pamphlet providing details on a list of 226 reliable “friends” who serve in the European Parliament. Farage said he would call on the parliament to set up a special committee to investigate the issue.

Who are Soros’ 226 EU ‘friends’?

In a 177-page pamphlet published by Open Society, entitled “Reliable Allies in the European Parliament (2014-2019),” 226 EU MEPs are listed and labeled according to their political orientation and views.

According to the pamphlet, “The presence of an MEP in this mapping indicates that they are likely to support Open Society’s work. Considering there are 751 members of the European Parliament, “reliable allies” of George Soros hold at least one-third of seats."

So what sort of qualifications does an MEP need to be included among Open Society’s “reliable allies?” A quick preview of the candidate’s description field provides some good indication as to what Soros expects from his allies, including a political philosophy that includes support of the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or intersex) movement, open borders and an anti-Russia stance.

Among the 226 chosen, there is one Yana Toom, an MEP from Estonia, who comes in for a bit of criticism despite her inclusion. “Refused supporting the European Parliament’s first resolution on the Ukraine-Russia conflict in July 2014, and may be pro-Russia to an unknown extent (and, in that case, not necessarily an Open Society).”

For anyone who questions whether Open Society works directly against Russian interests, that single line should dispel all doubts. Moreover, it provides some background as to why Russia in 2015 banned Open Society from operating on its territory due to the threat it posed to the country’s “constitutional order.”

Another MEP on the list, Monica Macovei of Romania, serves as something like the golden mean for star-studded Soros status.

“Resolutely progressive; unquestionable ally of Open Society values; does not hesitate to go against her group’s instructions; however, can sometimes be described as a loose cannon with her own, uncompromising set of priorities.”

When reading such an assessment, one might get the mistaken impression that the European Parliament is designed to serve the will of George Soros and his highly controversial agenda, as opposed to the will of the European peoples.

What does Soros want?

To say that George Soros, who was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary, has an influence on the global scene, would be the understatement of the century. His excessive wealth allows him to finance a veritable army of organizations, many serving at cross purposes.

Indeed, Soros, 87, has been connected to movements and civil disturbances as diverse as distanced as Black Lives Matter movement in the US, to the Maidan uprising in Ukraine.

And nowhere has Soros’s influence been more felt than in the ongoing European debate over migrants. 

It looks like the European refugee crisis, which has been blamed on the Syrian civil war, would not occur in its current intensity without the direct assistance of the Open Society Foundation.

Thanks to the advocacy work of the Migration Policy Institute and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), both Soros-sponsored organizations, the mass resettlement of Muslims from the Middle East and North Africa into Europe became the norm.

In fact, it appeared that the so-called “Merkel Plan” – the deal struck by the EU and Turkey – was the brainchild of the European Stability Initiative, “in addition to the largesse of George Soros’ foundations,” F. William Engdahl wrote in the Near Eastern Outlook.

Considering that the massive influx of Muslim migrants threatens to change the face of “Christian Europe” forever, and without any vote on the matter by the people of Europe, perhaps it is time to see exactly what kind of direct influence George Soros and his Open Society Foundation are having on European parliamentarians. After all, these are not the play toys of any one individual, but the representatives of an entire state.

Italian Prosecutors Can't Imprison 5 ISIS-Linked Terrorist Suspects

It should have been obvious to European governments that bringing in millions of Muslim refugees would require a change in some laws. It was to me and, I'm sure, to many of you. And yet, 2.5 years after the influx began, most European countries still don't have laws capable of dealing with the situation, and most aren't even contemplating changing their laws.

This is just absurd! They should have known, and certainly now know, that there are many Muslim migrants who are terrorists, jihadists, criminals, child rapists and rapists in general. Not the majority, of course, but certainly a significant contingent. Yet governments think they can carry-on with laws that protect human rights as though these people didn't exist.

Human rights are there to protect people. But when they protect criminals and terrorists enabling them to cause more damage to society, then they have completely failed in their purpose. Protection of society, and especially women and children has to come before the rights of a criminal, terrorist, or rapist. 

The embracing of Islam means there can never again be a society so free as to be totally concerned with individual rights. Corporate rights to safety and security must prevail.

FILE PHOTO © Alessandro Garofalo / Reuters

Italian prosecutors in the city of Turin have failed to jail five suspected members of an ISIS-linked cell, “ready to commit a terrorist attack” on Italian soil, citing a law that grants them the right to appeal a custody warrant.

The efforts to capture the suspected jihadists have been dragging on for at least six months, Italian news agency ANSA reports. In May, Turin public prosecutor Andrea Padalino asked the court to arrest the suspects and further place them into custody, but his petition was rejected by a preliminary investigative judge. Padalino then successfully appealed the decision to the upper court, which in its ruling on November 10 greenlighted the move.

However, the prosecutor’s quest is far over, as he will now have to wait if the suspects, three of whom are under house arrest for drug offenses and two are free, decide to contest the ruling.

By law, the defendants have 10 days to file an appeal with the Supreme Court, which can potentially further prolong the probe if it accepts the motion. In case of an appeal, it is not the essence of the allegations that will be reviewed, but the legality of the order itself, according to ANSA.

All the suspects came to Italy from Tunisia in 2014 and were granted residence permits after duping the authorities into believing that they had enrolled into a university and passed some exams. Upon securing their stay, the men then moved to the city of Pisa, where they engaged in an illicit drug trade.

The court of appeals said it took into account that at least one of the suspects was found to be “ready to commit a terrorist action on Italian territory,” while all of them “expressed adherence to the ideology of extremist and violent jihad,” Corriere Della Sera reported. The men reportedly kept in touch with other extremists on social media, hailed slain jihadist fighters as martyrs and provided “legal and economic assistance” to the arrested militants and sought to facilitate the travel of aspiring jihadists to war zones.

The court argued that the evidence pointed to the fact that the Tunisians were not merely indoctrinated, but actually members of a terrorist cell, some members of which went to Syria and were killed there.

The investigation into the group was launched after Italian military police examined the Facebook page of one of the suspects in a series of drug-dealing episodes. The police then found out that the man was in steady contact with ISIS militants and even promised some of his friends to follow in the footsteps of his killed ISIS friends by mounting a suicide bomb attack in Italy. The man was later arrested in Tuscany, La Stampa reported.

With the investigation being stuck in red tape since then, two of the initial suspects managed to sneak out to Syria and are believed to have been killed there. Another one is said to have been expelled from Italy in 2016.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Too Long in Coming, but What Now, After the Coup in Zimbabwe?

The coup that should have happened 15 years ago has finally ended the bloody reign of Robert Mugabe. The thought of his wife succeeding him was too much, even for the military. But is there a plan from here? Or was it just about getting rid of the Mugabes - because, I'm OK with that!

Zimbabwe: Key players as the country enters new chapter
CBC News 

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace wave to supporters in Harare on Feb. 23, 2014. Any plans for Grace Mugabe to one day succeed her husband as president have seemingly been dashed. (Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters)

Zimbabwe has been thrown into uncertainly after 37 years of rule by Robert Mugabe, who reportedly has been confined to his home compound in Harare since Tuesday in the wake of the military takeover.

Here's what you need to know about some of the key players as the situation unfolds in the country in southern Africa.

​Robert Mugabe

Mugabe is not the longest running of the several African leaders who have maintained an iron grip on power — that would be Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. But Mugabe is the most prominent, having been a figure of international attention dating over a half-century as he helped lead a movement against oppressive colonial rule in southern Rhodesia.

​Mugabe on the surface and in the first half of life drew comparisons to Nelson Mandela. Both were educated at Fort Hare University in South Africa and jailed for years — 11 in Mugabe's case — while opposing white minority rule in their countries. 

They were also celebrated throughout Africa for empowering, black-led movements, but comparisons ended after Zimbabwe won independence from Britain in 1980 as power corrupted the former teacher Mugabe.

Mugabe took office as the country's first prime minister and preached the need for a "broadly based" coalition to Western media at the time after being democratically elected. But he oversaw the brutal crushing of would-be opponents and rival ethnic groups, predominantly in Matabeleland. Government forces were accused of killing thousands of civilians.

While the country's economy was stable enough through those years of political turmoil, it has swooned since the late 1990s.

Around 2000, violent seizures of thousands of farms owned by white people began, causing agricultural production to plunge. A land reform program was supposed to take much of the country's most fertile land and redistribute it to poor blacks, but Mugabe instead gave prime farms to ZANU-PF leaders and loyalists.

Food shortages have followed, along with a number of alarming economic indicators: hyperinflation, an abandoned currency and rampant unemployment.

On Thursday, Zimbabwe's state-run newspaper published photos of Mugabe, now 92, meeting with army Gen. Constantino Chiwenga and officials from southern neighbour South Africa, leading to speculation as to the way forward.

Grace Mugabe

Now 52, she has been a controversial figure in her own right for extravagant spending in a country with significant poverty and unemployment, and for assault allegations from incidents the past decade in Hong Kong and South Africa. She escaped charges both times due to diplomatic immunity.

Born in South Africa, she met her husband while working in the Zimbabwean government as a secretary. They have three children. She also has a son from a previous relationship.

President Robert Mugabe and wife Grace leave the Kutama Catholic Church on Aug. 17, 1996 after exchanging their wedding vows. The couple were traditionally married shortly after the death of Mugabe's first wife Sally.
(Howard Burditt/Reuters)

On the political front, she leads the so-called Generation-40 faction of the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front party.

Over the years, she has moved to amass allies and marginalize rivals for the eventuality of her elderly husband's death. It was expected she would be appointed to the vacant vice-president's post at a special congress meeting in the coming weeks after the recent sacking of Emmerson Mnangagwa as vice-president.

"So I have said to the president: 'You can also leave me in charge,"' she said at a rally just days before the military stepped in. "'Give me the job and I will do it very well because I am good. I can do a great job.'" 

And she's humble, too.

It's not an unfamiliar development. In the paranoid style that has reflected Zimbabwean politics — Mnangagwa earlier this year claimed he was poisoned at a Zanu-PF party gathering — Grace Mugabe in late 2014 accused then VP Joice Mujuru of plotting to kill her "Gaddafi-style," referring to the  public death of the longtime Libyan dictator.

One month later, Mujuru was tossed from the party and position for disloyalty.

Grace Mugabe's current whereabouts have been a subject of speculation, given the properties the Mugabes own outside the country. 

Emmerson Mnangagwa

​Mnangagwa, one of two vice-presidents, was dismissed on Nov. 6, leading to the chain of events that has seen the military take control. The longtime ally had "exhibited traits of disloyalty," Robert Mugabe said at the time.

In other words, he wouldn't agree to Mrs Mugabe taking over after Mr Mugabe's demise.

Mnangagwa fled the country, reportedly to South Africa, and vowed to fight "tooth and nail" to return. 

"This party is not personal property for you and your wife to do as you please," he said in a statement after his ouster.

Emmerson Mnangagwa is shown on Aug. 25, 2015 while serving as one of the country's two vice-presidents. Mnangagwa promised to fight 'tooth and nail' after his ouster and may be part of a coalition going forward with Morgan Tsvangirai. (Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters)

Known as the Crocodile, with his supporters called the Lacoste group, he has reportedly been welcomed into the fold of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Mnangagwa has long been tapped to be a potential successor as president and was reportedly the choice as leader of the plotters of an unsuccessful coup in 2007. He was selected as a vice-president in 2013, but the faction within the party led by Grace Mugabe pushed for months behind the scenes to oust him.

Were he to assume power as president, it would not represent a break from the past.

Like Mugabe, he was jailed for many years related to violent activities undertaken by the Zimbabwe African National Union during the 1960s fighting white rule in what was known as Rhodesia. A lawyer, he has held a number of positions within the government and ZANU-PF party since Mugabe seized power in 1980.

Thousands of citizens died in repressive violence and crackdowns under his watch as national security minister in the 1980s. But to many in the country, a role for a limited time for Mnangagwa — who is in his early 70s — would be more palatable than continued Mugabe rule, which has been characterized by economic woes that include massive unemployment and a worthless currency.

Gen. Constantino Chiwenga

​Chiwenga's news conference on Nov. 13 was a sign for astute watchers of the region that a change of some sort was potentially afoot in Zimbabwe.

A veteran of the struggle to free the country from British rule dating back to the early 1970s, the army commander publicly criticized what he saw as one-sided internal ZANU-PF

Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Cmdr. Constantine Chiwenga said the military was prepared to 'step in,' a threat that was carried through in short order.
(Aaron Ufumeli/EPA-EFE)

"The current purging, which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background, must stop forthwith," he said.

Chiwenga said the army was prepared to "step in," without being specific as to what that entailed.

That question was partially answered hours later when armoured personnel carriers were seen nearing the capital of Harare. Soon, military leaders appeared on the state television network and it was announced that Robert Mugabe was confined to his home.

Morgan Tsvangirai

Tsvangirai, 65, was prime minister of Zimbabwe from 2009 to 2013, and is now president of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). 

He has returned to Zimbabwe this week from South Africa, where had been receiving treatment for cancer.

He called on longtime foe Mugabe to resign in a news conference on Thursday.

Zimbabwe's Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change is seen after receiving medical attention for being beaten in March 2007. (REUTERS)

Tsvangirai is a former trade unionist who formed the MDC in 1999, a party that quickly made gains in parliament.

Cancer has been just the latest of his trials. He has arrested several times over the years and suffered a beating from police in 2007 over what was deemed an illegal prayer meeting. Mugabe said he "deserved" the beating because he had violated laws.

He was charged with treason, and ultimately acquitted in 2004, after the notorious Montreal-based international lobbyist Dickens and Madson, working on behalf of Mugabe, passed along a videotape from a December 2001 meeting in which Tsvangirai takes part in a discussion of the "elimination" of Mugabe.

Tsvangirai led after the first round of presidential elections in 2008 over Mugabe, but then scores of his supporters were killed or injured, compelling him to bow out of the running before the next round.

A compromise was reached where he served as PM, but when the arrangement ended, Mugabe, not for the first time, blasted Tsvangirai as an "ignoramus."

Tsvangarai couched his comments on Thursday as being motivated by what's best for the future of the country.

"It was never a personal issue," he said. "I disagreed in the manner he [Mugabe] managed elections, I disagreed in the manner he conducted government business."

About the prospects of a transitional government Tsvangarai said "if we are approached to negotiate such a process, we will participate." 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ecuador's Vice President to be Tried on Bribery Charges

Corruption is Everywhere - Especially in South America

By Ed Adamczyk 

UPI -- Vice President of Ecuador Jorge Glas will face trial on bribery charges, the country's National Court of Justice ruled.

Of course, Brazil is involved

Glas is the highest-ranking politician indicted thus far in a widespread scandal involving Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company. The U.S. Department of Justice revealed in December that Odebrecht paid $788 million in bribes across 12 Latin American and African countries for preferential treatment in obtaining infrastructure construction projects. Over $33.5 million in bribes were paid in Ecuador, former Odebrecht executive Jose Conceicao Santos admitted in a plea deal. Prosecutors accuse Glas of talking $13.5 million, or about one-third of the money paid in Ecuador. Glas denies the charges.

As part of a plea deal, Jose Conceicao Santos, a former Odebrecht executive in Ecuador, admitted that the company had paid $33.5 million in bribes since 2007 to secure infrastructure contracts in the country.

Glas was arrested on Oct. 2, and has been in custody without bail since that date. He will be tried for illicit association and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Twelve others allegedly involved in the corruption scandal are also in custody in Ecuador. Politicians in Mexico, Peru, Panama and Brazil have been identified as involved in the corruption scandal.

With charges mounting against him, President Lenin Moreno relieved Glas of his government duties in August.

Glas has said he is a victim of political and media persecution. In a letter from jail to his children, released to the public immediately after the decision to try him, he wrote, "Your father is imprisoned because he was direct and for always standing up. Your father never flees. Someday you will understand all this. The example of my actions is the best legacy I can give you. Always remember that you never have to resign yourself to threats, hatred, and injustice."

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Merkel Replaced Germany’s Slaughtered Jews with Their 'Worst Enemies' – Karl Lagerfeld

A migrant takes a selfie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel © Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, 84, who serves as head creative director for Chanel and Fendi, struck two raw nerves with one controversial statement, saying Angela Merkel had replaced millions of Jewish Holocaust victims with their "worst enemies," in an apparent reference to the Muslim refugee influx.

Lagerfeld brushed all political correctness aside to bridge the 70-year gap between World War 2 and the current refugee crisis gripping Europe. "One cannot - even if there are decades between them – kill millions of Jews so you can bring millions of their worst enemies in their place," he told the television show “Salut les terriens!” on France's C8 channel on Saturday.

He preceded his inflammatory comment with a warning that he was about to "say something horrific" about Merkel's "huge error" of accepting so many refugees into the country. "I know someone in Germany who took a young Syrian and after four days said, 'The greatest thing Germany invented was the Holocaust,'" he added, as quoted by AFP.

The Hamburg-born fashion designer accused Merkel of trying to boost her own image by letting so many migrants into Germany.

"Merkel had already millions and millions (of immigrants) who are well integrated and who work and all is well... she had no need to take another million to improve her image as the wicked stepmother after the Greek crisis," said the designer. His comments prompted several hundred people to lodge official complaints, according to France's media regulator, the CSA, which said it is looking into the situation.

Around 1 million mainly Muslim migrants – many of them from war-torn Syria and Iraq – are estimated to have entered Germany since 2015, as part of the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Merkel has been criticized both domestically and abroad for her open-door policy for those fleeing war and persecution, with critics citing strains on the social welfare system and a rise in migrant-related crimes.

However, Merkel's CDU party and its Bavarian SCU sister party agreed in October to cap Germany's intake of asylum seekers at 200,000 a year. That number could be increased or lowered by the Bundestag in exceptional circumstances, Der Spiegel reported at the time, citing a draft paper.